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After landing Alexis Lafreniere, trading a wing isn’t a necessity for the NY Rangers

It’s funny how life works. The NY Rangers win the 2020 NHL Draft lottery to land Alexis Lafreniere. Within hours, trade chatter –more like trade conjecture– about trading down from the top pick hits. Now there is talk about how the Rangers will need to trade a wings off the roster to fit Lafreniere.

As it stands today, the Rangers have Chris Kreider (7 years, $6.5 million) and Artemi Panarin (6 years, $11.64 million) at LW. Lafreniere and his very cheap ELC (minimum $925k, max $3 million in bonuses) makes it three top line left wingers on the roster. It is certainly a good problem to have, but it’s not really a “problem” at all.

Lafreniere is cheap

The beauty of Lafreniere is that he is not only an elite potential winger, but his first three years are dirt cheap. His max salary is around $3 million, but only if he hits all of his bonuses. With no other skilled LWs on the roster, the Rangers are in a great spot. Depth matters here, and ice time concerns will work themselves out.

When it comes to power play time, the Rangers will add another offensive threat to make both units lethal. Again, depth matters here.

Injuries will also happen. At some point, the Rangers will likely be out one of those wingers for a period of time. Avoiding a scenario where Brendan Lemieux has to play extended time in the top-six is probably a good thing.

Playing the off-wing isn’t needed yet

Beyond the trade chatter, there was almost immediately talk about who would move to RW. There’s not much room on that side either, with Pavel Buchnevich and Kaapo Kakko locked into top-nine roles next year. Julien Gauthier had a strong play-in round and is a wild card. Then there’s the uncertain future for Jesper Fast. Oh and 9th overall pick Vitali Kravtsov will be fighting for a top-nine role.

RW is certainly not as good as LW, but RW is another strength. The Rangers can run legitimate NHL wingers who can put the puck in the net on all four lines. Three of them are on ELCs, and two are cost-controlled for another couple of years.

Doesn’t mean a trade isn’t happening

All that said, a trade may still happen. But there is a difference in dealing from a position of strength and *needing* to make a trade. The Rangers have an opportunity to deal from their wingers to address a position of weakness.

Jeff Gorton has already hinted that he will use all his assets to make the team better. This includes the winger depth, some RFA contracts, and prospects. I think it’s almost a certainty that the Rangers will make a few moves before or at the draft. But it isn’t a necessity. It’s using assets to better a team.

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  • Rangers will look for a couple of North South players with grit . The second number one and maybe Buch go for a center . I watched Kravstov this year a few times . I am not sure if he is ready . If the brass thinks he is , Buch is gone for sure . Fast , if we wants too much $ too.

    • I’m to lazy to find the quote of his but mind you he said this in late January. In the I want to be a NYR for life speech, Fast basically admitted that if the Rangers don’t offer what he’s worth then he plans to go out to a new team.

  • Rangers I don’t think will do anything until They find out what Hank is going to do! Yes, I do think they want to upgrade at center,but not a necessity. I think they need to go get a LD, resign ADA if contract reasonable.they also need to buyout Staal, Smith is usefull. We were exposed against the Canes on D. As for trading a wing, Buch is the logical choice, can get value. I would like to see us add 1 or 2 players with some bite in their game. We only have 2 players of that ilk. Kreider and we have to sign Lemeiux. Let’s see if we can go big game fishing (Hank,Staal or Smith) or supplement 3rd,4th lines..

    • You do not buy out Staal. As a seventh or eighth defenseman, he does not harm the team. Buying him out makes it harder to get under the cap in 2021-2022, which is a more serious problem than the coming cap as among other things, Shesterkin will get expensive.

      This is very different from the Lundqvist situation since as long as Lundqvist is on the team, it will be Hank’s team and not the Rangers.

      • Don’t buy out snow angel Staal. The canes went around him like he was stuck in Gorilla glue. Smith at least can play a little D and spot forward. 7th or 8 D, why carry if he sits in the stands.$3.7 against the cap,$2m in savings..the year after ny only $1.2 buy out please.

        • First off, I envision Staal as a seventh defenseman who doesn’t actually play. You certainly do not want a kid in that role as it interferes with development and somebody has to fill the position.

          Cap implications (rounding off): A buyout saves $2.1M next year, but one has to spend maybe $800K on an extra defenseman, a net savings of $1.3M. Then you have a cap hit of $1.1M in 2021-2022.

          Since the forecast is that cap space in 2021-2022 will be more of a problem, the buyout is generally a bad idea. Moreover, the buyout precludes options. It eliminates the possibility of retirement or a trade.

          Mind you, the Rangers bought out Shattenkirk because it made the cap work this year and it was the only single step that would do this and maybe if the Rangers absolutely need that $1.3M, they do this.

      • No one will be bought out. The team is already in cap hell dead cap space…and leadership has mentioned the importance of balancing out the cap space…Thanks Sather……

    • “Smith is useful” Lol it almost hurts the soul to know that there are people who think he has productive shifts(this is why I play gatekeeper of who played hockey or not, nobody with a honest past would admit Smith is any useful for a team with dreams). Did you forget how much $$ he makes?

      Btw Kreider for sure is not from that ‘ilk”… He has zero, I mean a fat goose egg in terms of inside the game rivals. Malkin and Ovi play more heavy and chippy than him.

      • Kreider can play physical when he wants! Granted he doesn’t do it every night,but he does.name someone other the 2 I mentioned who does. As for Smith last year of his contract, he is a UFA next year. Buying out Smith will cost us the full salary this year $4.7m.

        • Where did I suggest to buy out Smith? You should have kept it funky with the truth about him. Yes 100% it isn’t worth buying him out now. It still doesn’t change the fact that you are wrong about his game, he still is a terrible player! You can play Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm theme song when he plays D, it is that comical.

          As for Kreider, no he can’t.. If he did than we wouldn’t be having this convo. You just decide to lump him in with Lem and call it a day. He doesn’t take any good forechecking routes to the body. He doesn’t go for backdoor hits that usually involves speedy wingers… Lem is the only one and even he looks like a fringe NHL’er when he lines up for the body contact. He does not have the smarts to play a chippy legal style within the system.

          Hence why 95% of Rangers games involve never having a good forecheck… Or why Kreider has no rivals like most power forwards ( J Benn, Ovi, Wilson, Perry, B Schenn etc) Forget the post whistle stuff, Kreids doesn’t ever bring that physicality. The guy plays against enough top 6 names but never uses physical force on them. He also never targets the D….. He only gives cheap kidney shots to guys in the dz after he fumbles the puck in the nz… Please…

          • You didn’t, in your next post you would have! On the Rangers Kreider is 1 of only 2 players who can or will play that style. Check out the playoffs against Ottawa. If your so down on him, blame Vigneault for changing his style,( turn the other check Vigneault). He is not perfect, he never will be.
            Lemeiux fringe, right now adequate..give him time and let him develope.

        • JoeRanger

          Empty barrels make the most noise!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          No need to respond to the brilliant analysis that he brings, not…

        • “5 negatives so far…”

          Unlike you, my past doesn’t involve being a bystander in the crowds. I have my hardware, I been state, I been to Buffalo for the sweet four playoffs, sauce passes have been given both ways. Scrums, games where the hit totals are above 25-30… Practiced and playef against Canadians and Euro’s.. Meanwhile in your hockey world “Kreider sometimes plays with an edge” lol.

          I don’t need a crazy person’s justification on what I see, say and been through for 10+ years of my life. Ps David has exposed that it’s one person with numerous emails controlling the votes here.

          I guess this is when the convo ends..? By submission because you know you can’t defend Kreider playing like a wimp. You have girl tendency if likes/dislikes is how you form a convo.

          • Stop boasting about your accomplishments. They mean nothing on this post!! I have also played high school and tournaments.Not as much as you,but not seat sitter in the stands,so I know a little bit. Just because you have “hardware” doesn’t mean people talking about our team here know NOTHING! Are you in the dressing room,do you know what the coaches said! Both no.
            My girlish tendencies to make a point/observation,just shows the rest of us how full of yourself you are.most of your posts are being rated as NEGATIVE. There is the justification from the rest of us..
            Move on to another subject!!

  • I really don’t think they’re gonna trade this pick at all. This is the only time since 1965 they’ve had the #1 pick, and there is a legit franchise player sitting there. Guys like JD and Gorton are very well aware of this opportunity. I mean, they’re not Mike Milbury or anyone like that. There’s no risk in taking Lafrenier. He’s great, dynamic, and potentially franchise-changing. Playing around with the pick introduces all sorts of risk… risk to the rebuild, risk to the progress they’ve made, and frankly risk to their legacy here. They’ve been patient with this rebuild, and I just don’t see JD and Gorton fumbling the ball like that.

    Those stories out of Ottawa and other places are pure click-bait to me.

    • Byfield looks to be an imposing player that could become a Cam Neely…. immovable type that will be impossible to move out and away from the front of the net…quite possible be a super, but I will stick with LaF….

      • Cam Neely is not the comparison I would use for Byfield!
        He has the talent, size and speed , but lacks grit! He doesn’t use his size to his advantage like he could or should with his physical gifts

  • Confused why Buch and Kravtsov are trade chips. I understand they both have baggage, but don’t they have enough talent and aren’t they young enough to give them more opportunities to be the players the brass thought they would be when they drafted them? Shoring up defense would be great, and yes, you got to give to get. But, there are other assets to move.

    We absolutely need toughness too, no light weights please. Rangers have multiple young, talented players at forward and defense, and Shesterkin in goal, and these players likely will be targeted.

    • “But, there are other assets to move.”

      Like who. Typically, the players fans want to trade are those with little or no trade value. Guys like Staal and Smith you have to pay teams to take them off our hands. You will get very little for Hajek, Rykov, Howden, diGuiseppi.

      Mind you, I am not advocating trading either player, just noting that, as you say, you have to give to get, and giving really does mean giving.

    • I think the first ‘asset’ they should move is kaako. I have no idea why it seems everyone is so enamored with this guy. Sure, the guy has size and some tools but he doesn’t seem to have a clue what is happening out there. He definitely needs a year in Hartford.

    • This team can’t go toe to toe with the big clubs….and with having the phenom LeFranchise on board…..I believe Gorton will use some of our roster players in a trade for some beef that can play some hockey….Kreider is not that kind of player..I think Kreider is the strongest player in hockey and afraid that he would seriously hurt someone with a full body check…Kredier is amazingly strong….and can fight too…but not that kind of player…I also believe that Buch could be moved….I am tired of people blaming the coaches for his inconsistent play.. They blamed AV, and now it’s Quinn….Buh is a major whiner that needs to stop whining and start playing to his potential, or else I cannot see him here long term…

    • I agree with you.we need toughness! Who we target and how we go about it. That’s the $500,000 question.
      However to get some toughness we might have to make some hard decisions, which might mean someone like Buch on the forwards and maybe some of our high picks or D prospects (excluding Miller and Lundqvist).might have to go too thin it. I don’t think there is anything in UFA we can use..
      I would love to see the Rangers get a Sam Bennett or Adam Lowery both good on face offs and character guys.im sure there are others.

  • I really don’t think the logjam at left wing is as big of a problem as people are making it out to be.
    Panarin or Kreider can switch sides and probably won’t miss a beat doing so.
    I think that Lafreniere has the talent and smarts to play pivot , but I don’t think the Rangers will put him in that situation as a rookie!

    • Completely agree. The “logjam” is nowhere near a big deal. Oh nooooo, we have 3 really good LW’s! The horror. It’s called depth people.

      If Laf is as good as advertised, he easily slides into Kreider’s spot as CK20 enters his 30’s and slows a bit.

      To me, the big need is a 2nd-3rd line center. Get a guy with some experience, defensively sound, with some size and grit. He can hold down that #2 spot for 1-2 seasons until Chytil is set. He can play a defensive role between Kakko and Panarin and let those two run wild. As soon as Chytil is ready for that #2 spot, he slips to 3C as a good defensive center. Unfortunately Strome is not that guy. But someone similar in terms of pro experience.

  • I think management is mostly going about this whole thing the right way. The basic tenet of “Not rushing the rebuild” is doing things because they are right and not because they seem necessary.

    The Rangers seem likely to have too many quality wings down the road. That creates a trading opportunity and I think if the right deal comes along, Gorton will grab it. But only if it is the right deal – there is no urgency. For the moment, the wings are cheap. With so many unproven players who seem promising, the Rangers don’t KNOW what their needs will be down the road. We think we know, but if Miller, Lundqvist, Robertson, Jones live up to their potential and Kakko, Kravtsov continue to disappoint, it becomes a glut of defensemen, not wings.

    And the center position. It may be bleak – or if Chityl fully blossoms and Barron is what is hoped, maybe they are fine there. One should not be in a hurry to fill holes before you really know where the holes are.

  • Just spitballing here, but do the Rangers consider trading the 1st overall pick to the Sens for the number 3 and 5 pick and a top C prospect (Logan Brown or Josh Norris).
    By all accounts these two big centers are NHL ready, and have very high ceilings.
    This solves the center position and allows the Rangers to draft two of the best available players in the top 5.
    So you’re still getting either Stutzle or Byfield at 3 and possibly the best D in the draft in Drysdale or Sanderson at 5.
    Not a bad haul and the trade seems beneficial to both teams

    • I agree with the notion that trading the first pick maybe should be on the table. I mean you don’t give it up easily but surely there are offers that could be made that would make good trades. Not sure if the offer you mention would entice me, but there are offers that would.

      However, fans are irrational by nature. Alexis Lafreniere is going to have a HOF career as a lifelong Ranger and we don’t want to give that up at any price. As for John Davidson (and this would be his call in the end if Gorton were considering it), the fear of second guessing would make the move far too risky.

      GMs often take risk-free moves if they can. Sather and Gorton have gotten a lot of flak for McIlrath and Andersson. But even if Kakko proves as awful as he was last year, there will be no criticism of the draft choice itself because everyone would have taken him. Ditto Lafreniere. [Note: I don’t expect either to flop.]

  • You don’t need to trade anyone right away. The problem comes in the future, two to three years out. You have Panarin at $11.6 and you will need to sign Zibanejad and he won’t be cheap, most likely $10mill +. Yes Lafreniere will be cheap for 3 years but if you look at how the second contract has been working for guys like him, if he’s as good as expected he will also most likely cost $10mill + too. Combined with Trouba’s $8 mill and Kakko, Fox, Lindgren, Chytil and Igor are also going to need raises. Can you afford Kreider at $6.5mill as your 3 LW? And when will the cap go up? Not for at least 2 years. But it could be even longer than that. Something will eventually have to give.

    I agree it’s great to have depth at a position. But let’s look at the next 2 years. Do we think we are going to be able to make a deep run in the play offs next year? We should be better, but our left D needs a lot of help and we do need some sandpaper forwards. And spots for them to play. The good news is you can usually find those forwards for a reasonable price. Even 21-22 we should start to be very competitive but how deep do we go? And do you wait to trade a forward a few years from now when you are up against the cap and distressed and the player is 2 years older? As you folks have rightly brought up before; one bad contract can derail a rebuild.

    The team still has a long to do list. Gorton was wise to move Sjkei when he did. And I won’t be surprised to see him get ahead of the curve on moving a forward. He’s not only looking at “today” he’s looking down the road. And that is a good strategy. Some guys won’t be here in the future. Maybe people we like.

    • ” Do we think we are going to be able to make a deep run in the play offs next year?”

      This year, ignoring the loser point, Philadelphia had a W-L record of 41-28. The Rangers, in games not started by Henrik Lundqvist, had a record of 27-17, slightly better. So the difference between where they were and bypassing the preliminary round was just one player.

      And even that is misleading. Shesterkin was amazing from day one at Hartford. He didn’t grow into the role.

      Of course, we should expect a deep run next year. Without the injuries to Shesterkin, Fast, DeAngelo, they make a deep run this year.

      ****************

      I agree with your basic sentiment, but I think primarily Gorton is going to be careful in the negotiations with Strome, DeAngelo, Fast, because he does not want that big albatross contract AND he will not make big long term moves to fix short term problems.

      • Hey Ray Rangers aren’t on Philly’s level, idk where that comparison came from. Ignor fully healthy with Fast and this team still doesn’t pull off the upset of Pitts, Bos, Wash, Tamps and now game 1 win vs MTL. Ask ADA over twitter about it.. He has been on record that no team comes close to them. JVR plays bottom 6 mins and has like 3 less goals than CK who plays with 70+ players lol.

        This team is more Edmonton type at best…

      • with all due respect, after watching the qualifier vs Carolina, the injuries to Fast, ADA and Igor certainly weren’t helpful, but they would not have changed the final outcome of the series if they were all healthy. They outplayed us. It’s best to accept that and change the team accordingly than to think a few minor tweaks and we’re where we need to be. We need at a minimum a 2C, a 4C and probably 2 LD on short term deals. You could also argue we could use one more experienced bottom six winger. Also keep in mind we have the expansion draft after next season and we need to be prepared to manage that situation.

        • When it comes to winning and losing, the Rangers were one of the best teams in the league in 2019-2020 – if you ignore the games in which Henrik Lundqvist started. That’s just a fact.

          It is folly to base your construction of the team on a three game series if you can find good reasons why the games went badly. And there are such reasons – injuries, poor game plan, lack of commitment.

          Teams can have weaknesses. The Rangers lost to Dallas in 1994 and Keenan concluded that the Rangers were not tough enough to beat a team like that and made some trades. And I do wonder if the Rangers can handle Boston, a really bruising team. But the Rangers still have won most of their games against the Canes this year.

          All we just saw were three games in four days in which one team got off to a bad start and did not come back.

  • Three things to know before you get what you need from another team: #1 put a value on what you need, #2 what your prepared to give to get, and #3 what whoever has what you need, needs.

  • 1st thing for aborts…call Buffalo and offer our 2nd first round pick, a second, Buch, Lias, Strome and Yegor Ry for Eichel.

    Costs about the same… Buffalo get depth…we get a #1 center

    If that doesn’t work…

    Sign Strome for 2 yrs and ADA for 2 yrs
    Get Nico Sturm (young center) or Acciari….
    Can get either for 2nd first rounder, a #2, Buch and Lias

    Sign Kyle Clifford and another sand paper dude

    • Can’t see any good reason to pick up either Strum or Acciari and neither is worth more than a 3rd rounder (I’m being very generous here).

      Re: Eichel, they will laugh at that offer … and laugh hard, especially because they aren’t even considering a trade of Eichel. Their job is to build a team around him and Dahlin.

    • Lou

      I posted this yesterday, FYI why that won’t happen.

      Aug 12, 2020
      There is no way in hell we trade this pick, especially for the deal proposed by “Creature Feature” for many reasons, especially for the following:

      Eichel @ $10 mil per year
      Breadman @ $8.5 per year
      Zibby will need to be signed to $10 per year
      Kreider @ $6.5 per year
      Trouba @ $8 per year

      For a total of $43 million on these players alone. This is more than half of the cap by itself, then the rest of the story:

      Pay raises coming

      Lemieux
      Kakko (2 years)
      Chytil
      Kravs (2 years)
      Fox next year
      Lindgren next year
      The Czar (2 years)

      This is only 12 players, how do you fit the rest of the roster? We need 23 players, where is the money coming from. Jim Dolan may have deep pockets, but the NHL won’t let him spend any more than any other team. Such a trade is nothing but a pipe dream folks!!!!!!!

      • Watch and see the difference between salary and value. A trade of Buch and Tony D for Eichel has salary offsets, but the value that Eichel brings is far superior to anything else we have on the roster. We will have many inexpensive assets for 2 years. Let them learn on the 3rd and 4th lines while we display powerhouses up front. We then will have a stronger full roster come 2021

  • If Sather were running the organization today, I’d be crapping in my pants at what he would do. Fortunately he is history, and put JG in the GM position before he did the duffel bag drag.

    JD is running the organisation, and I have a load of respect for both he, and JG. Both of these gentlemen are smart, thinking men, who are miles ahead of all of us as to what to do to keep us a competitive team now, and for years to come.

    Patience is the key word, let’s see what they do, because I suspect that within the next three years, we will win the cup, and be a favorite for years to come……………………………………….

    • If Sather was running the show..we would not even be discussing a draft pick, because Sather was not a believer of drafting talent, and instead was always looking for the star named player….Don’t get me wrong because first and foremost..Sather is true Ranger fan…and loves the team…I have met Sather a few times during my life and found him to be a super fan of the tea,…So regardless of his vices for the named player throughout his history as Ranger GM….Sather wanted nothing but to win……

      • Rocky Ranger

        You could be right, but he still stunk up the place. Being a fan doesn’t make him effective, and or competent!!!!!!!!!!!

        You have a tough job trying to defend the guy…………

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